2016 Annual MMVS Conference a Blessing
Annual Conference of the Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam of Northeast American Diocese was held on Saturday October 15, 2016 at St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church of Philadelphia
. The Conference, inaugurated and presided over by His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos
, Diocesan Metropolitan, was attended by approximately 550 people from various churches in the Diocese, including several distinguished priests.
The conference was off to a very good start with the Choir of the hosting parish, St. Thomas Church, singing melodious devotional songs. Reverend Father T. A. Thomas
, Vice president of Marth Mariam Samajam, welcomed the Metropolitan and the attendees, in addition to Reverend Father M. K. Kuriakose
, Diocesan Secretary and Vicar of St. Thomas Church who offered a warm welcome to all the participants to the parish.
Mrs. Omana Varghese of St. Thomas Church, read a passage of the Holy Bible. Mrs. Shoba Biju of the host parish offered a devotional speech on the theme, “Salt of the Earth”. Dwelling on the usefulness of salt, she drew an analogy, urging the participants to be “Salt of the Earth”, enhancing the spiritual thirst in others.
Reverend Father Timothy (Tenny) Thomas
was the keynote speaker. The theme of this year’s conference was “Parousia” or Second Coming of Christ. Timothy Achen spoke about the second coming of Christ, urging the audience to be vigilant and be prepared since no one knows the timing of the Second Coming. Achen explained the scriptural basis of the second coming of Christ (Matthew 24: 25-31; 36-41). He reminded the audience that our citizenship as a Christian is in heaven (Philippians 3: 20). He admonished us to study the word of God diligently and urged us to partake in the suffering of Christ so that we may be overjoyed at His coming (1 Peter 4: 13). Therefore, we must wake up from our slumber, he added. He dwelt at length on the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew: 251-13), to illustrate the point that we will get shut off from enjoying the company of the bridegroom in the event we are caught off guard and unprepared at the second coming of Christ. The parable affirms the need to be serious in following of our faith and meeting the requirements for entry into the kingdom of heaven. Dedication is of paramount importance. Just as lack of dedication prevents the entry into the kingdom of heaven, determination and dedication as displayed by the wise virgins will guarantee admission. Spiritual activity is not the same as spirituality. Our church-going on Sunday should be our journey to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35). Our mental eyes should be open to see our Lord. In conclusion, Achen urged us not to worry about the timing of second coming, but instead be prepared and keep the oil in the lamp ready.
The melodious singing by the combined choir from Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island was indeed a sumptuous feast for the audience. The panel discussion followed and Reverend Father Shibu Mathai
was the moderator. The participants were Mrs. Jessy Mathew and Mrs. Mini George. The topic under discussion was “When the son of man comes will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). Mrs. Jessy Mathew took the position that there will be faith found upon the return of Christ, validating her view quoting Biblical, historical and current events. Mrs. Mini George took the opposing view, heaping arguments to prove that there will be no faith found in the world upon the second coming of Christ. She talked about the worldly direction of many, especially the young people, adding that the satanic worship and other cults are flourishing in the world these days. Reverend Father Shibu Mathai, the Moderator, urged the audience to remember that Jesus sought sinners at His first coming and will be looking for believers at His second coming. The biggest sin, according to him, is the loss of faith, underlining the importance to keep our faith sustained. He hurled a question to the audience: “Are we going to be in the remnant” that Jesus will be looking for? He stressed the need to be persistent and steadfast to be included in the remnant.
Stephanie John and Jenny George from MGOSCM of our Diocese spoke about the upcoming New Jersey Leadership Camp and asked for prayers and support. A roll call of the parishes that attended the conference followed. The highest attendance in terms of numbers was from St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church of Philadelphia. In the Raffle that followed, first prize was awarded to Mrs. Mariamma Mathai of St. Gregorios Church, Bensalem, Pennsylvania, the second prize secured by Mr. Thomas Thankachan of Westchester, New York and the third prize was won by Mrs. Annamma Koshy of St. Basil Church, Franklin Square. The host parish, St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, was awarded the trophy for selling the largest number of raffle tickets.
The afternoon session began with the distribution of certificates to the participants of the Leadership Training Program. Certificates were awarded to people who completed Level 1, 2 and 3 courses. This was followed by a presentation from GROW (God Renewing Orthodox Women). Miss Pincy Jacob, Secretary of GROW and Mrs. Susan Varughese presented a program outlining the growth of GROW so far. They also presented a video of the first 2-day camp held this year. Miss Pincy Jacob thanked MMVS and all the parishes for their generous support GROW has received over the past years. Dr. Ammu Paulose, MMVS Charity Coordinator, made a presentation detailing the charity efforts undertaken by the Samajam in 2016.
The heat was in the air as the Quiz competition got under way. The topic was the book of Revelation and Quiz Master was Very Reverend K. Mathai Chor Episcopos. Thirty-one parishes participated in the competition. Each group had a Proctor and an Examiner. The first prize in the competition went to St. Mary’s Church, Suffern New York and the second prize to St. Mary’s Church, White Plains New York and third prize to St. Thomas, Levittown, New York. Our Diocesan Metropolitan presented the prizes to each group representing their respective parishes.
The curtain fell on this year’s MMVS Conference after Mrs. Shanta Varghese, General Secretary of Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam, thanked all the participants, especially the hosting parish for their dedication and hard work in providing a very cordial atmosphere with sumptuous lunch and delicious refreshments.
Conference, Marth Mariam Samajam
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